Hotel plunge father: 'I love my family'

A father accused of murdering his son by throwing him from a hotel balcony told a Greek court today that his family meant the world to him.

John Hogan, 33, from Bristol, is believed to have hurled Liam from the balcony then jumped himself with two-year-old Mia in a suicidal act described as “selfish love” by his ex-wife Natasha.

Liam died of head injuries but Hogan and Mia survived with broken limbs in the fall during their holiday on the island of Crete.

Hogan told the Crete court: “I loved my mother, I loved my two sisters but I loved my wife and children more than anything.

“They meant the world to me.”

Handcuffed Hogan had been ushered into the Criminal Court of Chania via a side door.

He was taken to a room linked to the courtroom, where he smoked cigarettes while 38 other cases were dealt with.

On the first day of evidence in Crete, a jury panel heard how Hogan thought he was taking his children to “heaven” on the night of August 15, 2006.

Standing in the same room as each other for the first time since the fatal fall, Hogan and his 35-year-old ex-wife clashed when he accused her of saying he was from a “family of death”.

Mrs Hogan had broken down in tears as she described the night when Hogan gave her “a crazed look” before jumping from the balcony of the 227-bed four-star Petra Mare hotel, which overlooks the beach of Ierapetra.

Mrs Hogan said she booked the holiday in the hope of patching up their marriage but instead it had been plagued by rows.

On the night of his death, she got changed and took the children to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner because Hogan was “agitated”.

She said: “I asked him to calm down because the kids were there. I bathed the children and then took them down to dinner.”

She then described how Hogan kept coming down to the restaurant in an increasingly “angry” mood.

Before the death plunge, they had been rowing as she organised his suitcases, she said.

Describing their last words together, Mrs Hogan went on: “He said ’My packing is crap. John’s packing is crap’. I had my back to him and when I turned around no-one was there.”

Hogan’s psychiatrist claimed his actions were caused by an “earthquake” of psychosis.

Joannis Nestoros, a psychiatrist from the University of Crete, said: “He was away from reality. He did not know what he was doing. It was not his intention to harm the children.

“He thought he would be able to take his children to heaven. This was not logical.”

Hogan’s mother, Josephine, 65, who moved to Bristol from Ireland 30 years ago, spoke of her son’s close relationship with his two children.

Hogan denies charges of murder and attempted murder.

The jury of three men and a woman selected to sit alongside the three judges is expected to retire to consider its verdict after a closing speech from the defence and prosecution later today.

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